Varadkar and other EU leaders pledge EU will 'stay united through thick and thin'
TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar and other European leaders have agreed a declaration that the EU will "stay united through thick and thin".
The statement comes against the backdrop of a looming Brexit and amid fears of a surge in support for populists in European Elections later this month.
Twenty-seven EU leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron of France are today meeting in Sibiu, Romania where the European Council is holding an informal summit.
The declaration notes that the EU, with its Single Market and around half a billion citizens, has grown to be a major player on the international scene.
It says: "We reaffirm our belief that united, we are stronger in this increasingly unsettled and challenging world."
The leaders unanimously agreed ten commitments to make the EU stronger and "our future brighter".
They pledge to "defend one Europe" 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain and say there is "no place for divisions that work against our collective interest."
The declaration goes on to say: "We will stay united, through thick and thin.
“We will show each other solidarity in times of need and we will always stand together. We can and we will speak with one voice.”
Mr Varadkar has frequently pointed to solidarity shown to Ireland by other EU members states during the Brexit process.
British prime minister Theresa May is not attending today's summit.
Other commitments by the other 27 EU leaders include continuing to “protect our way of life, democracy and the rule of law”.
They also promise to “protect our citizens and keep them safe by investing in our soft and hard power and by working with our international partners”.
Europe, they say, will be a “responsible global leader” and will work with international partners to “jointly tackle global issues such as preserving our environment and fighting climate change”.
The declaration conlcudes: “The Union of today is stronger than that of yesterday and we want to continue to build its strength for tomorrow.
“This is our commitment for the future generations.
“This is the spirit of Sibiu and of a new Union at 27 ready to embrace its future as one.”